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Toxicity Comparison

I am sure some of these assume certain allergies and little or no immediate access to medical treatment. Interesting nonetheless.

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5 comments

  • BenEspen

    BenEspen 4 months, 1 week ago

    There are some hidden assumptions, but pretty good. There are other common substances which are very common that don't make the list. For example, endotoxins or pyrogens are dangerous in very small quantities (nanograms), and can be a common contaminant, but no one is familiar with them because they are well understood, and people are kept safe without their knowledge.

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    • Razorback

      Razorback 4 months, 1 week ago

      Does the body automatically help protect itself against endotoxins and pyrogens? Is it only when they are released in slightly larger-than-normal amounts (nanograms) that we actually become ill and require medical treatment?

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      • BenEspen

        BenEspen 4 months, 1 week ago

        No, not exactly. A endotoxin is naturally present in certain kinds of bacteria. When they die [i.e. your immune system kills them] this material leaks out. You have an evolved immune response that causes a fever [which kills more of them]. This is how everything is supposed to work. What can cause a problem is if you make something that is supposed to be sterile, say a medical device, and you sterilize it up to kill all the bacteria on it. You can have all the endotoxins leak out of the dead bacteria, and then when the device is used, the patient gets this really high fever all of a sudden. It is an immune response all out of whack.

        Fortunately, we know how to fix this: get the stuff hot for a while. Above a certain temperature, pyrogens break down. There is also standard testing for this response that uses blood harvested from horseshoe crabs. I think there was a tack about that at one point.

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      • BenEspen

        BenEspen 4 months, 1 week ago

        Oh hey, that horseshoe crab tack was you! http://gentlemint.com/tack/228121/

        Reply